Erik P. Nielsen
July 13, 1978 - June 22, 2023
Obituary For Erik P. Nielsen
To view the Livestream of Erik's funeral service, please click the livestream link below his picture.
In 2018, Erik shared this reflection with his Masonic brothers after seeing a play called Marjorie Prime. He wrote (edited for clarity):
The “Prime,” a hologram that looks like a deceased loved one to aid in keeping memories, notes that sailors brought some penguins to Madagascar in the 17th century, where their penguin descendants remain to this day. She looks up wistfully and notes that “Penguins are all that’s left of them.” Fade to black.
To me, that hilarious line is the perfect summation of the net impact of the sailors’ lives. Penguins. It implicitly asks two questions: what we will be remembered for and how we want to be remembered.
After the play, my wife asked me for what I wanted to be remembered. I said something along the lines of “a guy who did some stuff and then died.”
I don’t pretend that I will have an outsized influence on history, much less one connected to stranded penguins half a world away. But Masonry says we should “live respected and die regretted.” For all things Masonry, I look to the basic values to figure out how to do so: friendship, morality, brotherly love, relief, truth. (I’m missing a few, and temperance was never my strong point).
If we conduct our lives according to these virtues, we will pass on knowing we left the world in a better place than we found it.
. . . .
Make today better than yesterday. Or penguins will be all that’s left of us.
Erik P. Nielsen, age 44, passed away on Thursday, June 22, 2023, at St. Mary’s Hospital, Madison, Wisconsin, from complications of metastatic melanoma.
Outside of his family, Erik did not consider himself a people person. His church life, for example, centered on worship, not community. He could be a bit of a curmudgeon and homebody.
Still, he seemed to like people more than he let on. He valued his Masonic community. He cherished memories of a long-ago guys’ trip to Chile and a trip to Quebec City with Enid. He built comfortable friendships to simply sit and talk.
Erik loved fine foods and wines, whether grilling at home while enjoying a Pisco Sour or Old Fashioned on the deck or eating out at restaurants such as Osteria Papavero or the Madison Club. But he was not a snob. On his last good day, he dreamed of a delicious breakfast. “Maybe an Egg McMuffin tomorrow?” he said, grinning hopefully.
The rich cultural education he shared with his child Kalena extended broadly, too. If Kalena hadn’t heard of a certain band or song, he’d say, “Music education time!” and pull up YouTube. The family explored everything from big hair bands to indie pop across the ages.
He and Kalena had a running joke: “Your first attempt at running from a tiger might be your last attempt at running from a tiger”, which they abbreviated as “Your FARFT might be your LARFT.” He will be missed.
Born on July 13, 1978, Erik was the son of Roger and Sandra (Bupp) Nielsen. He was a graduate of Kilbourne High School in Worthington, OH, and held a B.S. in Computer Science from UW-Madison as well as an MBA from UW-Platteville. After a long career as a software engineer and a manager for bioinformatics and phone apps, he was an employee of Cengage in Madison, WI, working to coordinate diverse departments.
Erik was a Freemason for over 20 years and a Past Master of both Commonwealth No. 325 and Benjamin Franklin No. 83 in Madison, WI. As a founding member of the Benjamin Franklin Masonic Lodge #83, he was able to inspire others in the Masonic tradition.
He met Enid through the Madison housing cooperative, Ofek Shalom. They married in 2005 at the Masonic Center and celebrated with a party full of dancing. He was a devoted father, sharing his favorite movies, music, and anime; helping with schoolwork; and making jokes. He worked with his dad on a variety of investments, picking up complex information quickly. He enjoyed brunches with his mom and appreciated the time they spent together.
Survivors include his parents Roger and Sandra, wife Enid Williams, child Kalena Nielsen, brother Mark (Nicole) Nielsen, aunt Karen (Alden) McLellan, aunt Joan (Richard) Ralph, uncle Christopher (Alice) Bupp, aunt Cheryl (Patrick) Chapman, nephews and niece Alexander, Elijah, and Korinthia, many devoted cousins, in-laws Deborah and Gilbert Williams, many Masonic brothers (such as James Anderson and Travis West), colleagues, and friends (especially Mike Languell).
Preceded in death by his grandparents Paul and Carol Nielsen, Alexander (Eleanor) Bupp, and Phyllis Seefeldt.
Funeral services will be held at Ryan Funeral Home (220 Enterprise Dr, Verona, WI), on Tuesday, June 27, at 12:30 p.m. A visitation will be held at the same location, beginning at 10:30 a.m. Burial will be held after the service at Natural Path Sanctuary, Verona.
To honor his wife’s traditions, shiva services will be held on Tuesday, July 11, 2023 at 6:00pm. Location will be posted soon on https://www.caringbridge.org/visit/eriknielsen/
Welcome to our CaringBridge website. We are using it to keep family and friends updated in one place. We appreciate your support and words of hope and encouragement. Thank you for visiting.
A special thanks to the doctors, residents, and nurses of the 5SW unit at St. Mary’s Hospital, the Palliative Care team, and the oncologists at SSM Health. His family is grateful for the outpouring of support from many friends as well as members of Bread of Life Anglican Church and Congregation Shaarei Shamayim.
Photos & Video
Add New Photos & Video
what our families say
Tiffany Foster went out of her way to fulfill all my requests, talked me through problems I was facing, and tried to make me feel as comfortable as possible when I was a wreck, totally crushed, and I thank her with all of my heart for that.
James S. | July 2020
The professional manner of the staff made a difficult time a little easier.
Lynda R. | July 2020
Services provided for both parents were perfect, on time, and no issues. Brenda is awesome and strong!
Michael M. | July 2020
Skyler was absolutely amazing. She was so caring and helpful through this whole process. She even went above and beyond to meet with us in DeForest and even to make a stop at our home to drop off or pick up anything needed. While it was a small gesture, it was so helpful and greatly appreciated.
Brooke S. | Dec. 2020